Should Oprah Shoulder The Faults of Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz?
Truth be told, iconic media mogul, Daytime Queen, actress and producer, Oprah Winfrey isn’t having a good year. And she’s not the only one for obvious reasons, but the shit was happening to her way before a global pandemic claimed our reality.
For me, it started when she cosigned the questionable documentary Leaving Neverland, by offering her stamp of approval and validating the testimonies of the accusers, who allege sexual abuse at the hands of the late legend, Michael Jackson, who’s been dead for a little over a decade.
It was wild to witness a revered industry personality with a massive platform, misguidedly utilize her star power and solid reputation as the launching pad for an event that was themed by unsubstantiated claims, that the embattled accused had spent a good portion of his life battling in the court of law.
Michael Jackson was never convicted of child sexual abuse and up until his untimely death in the late summer of 2009, that remained the indisputable fact.
It was reckless and quite frankly disturbing to witness the awesome power of a renowned trailblazer being translated into the basin of the very thing journalism students are advised against when it comes to the wrongdoing of leading with your personal biases.
The argument for the perpetrator was the fact that she was bravely honoring triggered victims of abuse, including herself, but as someone who bears the burden of my own childhood trauma, I vehemently disagree with that angle.
And then there’s the unresolved drama with Oscar-winner Mo’Nique, who has spent the last few years vocally expressing her real-life nightmare that’s encompassed by the audacity of Oprah Winfrey, and how she refuses to own up to how her own misdeeds, resulting in serious damage to the comedian’s burgeoning Hollywood career.
As expected, most observers side with the safer bet, but when you dig deeper and survey the entire landscape with added measures of recent activities, it’s hard not to give the side-eye to the one who can no longer hide from mounting inquiries.
From her abrupt departure from the soon-to-be-aired documentary that targets cultural icon Russell Simmons as a sexual predator to the controversial addition of American Dirt to her famed book club, despite fiery push back from a community that deems her choice as a betrayal, there seems to be a slew of inconsistencies that are forcing us to reassess whether or not our heroes are worthy of unrelenting adulation.
It’s quite disconcerting to track how far Oprah has fallen from the scale of perfection and there’s nothing more telling than when she falls flat on her back, and the general response is the public mockery that illustrates the pent up rage that we can’t examine unless the subject is willing to meet us halfway.
The main gripe with fame and fortune is the inaccessibility that the famous are determined to maintain on their terms. The untouchability helps to increase the durability of the few we idolize because that restrictiveness allows for the hovering mystery that maintains our acceptance of whatever.
But the boldness of social media that empowers users with the right to hold anyone accountable regardless of their illustrious stations has inevitably torn down the walls for better or worse.
We can literally curse out whoever lands on our shit list and if we’re lucky, we can encourage a shit load of people to assist in the tradition of mandated cancellations.
Regardless of how I feel about how Oprah has chosen to navigate her way in this new and improved mode of engagement, it will never overshadow my long-held respect for how she’s single-handedly changed the game of media relations.
However, the fiasco with the MJ documentary is a situation that I would love to pick her brain about if I could ever be so lucky. And I can readily admit that I hope Mo’Nique is eventually granted the vindication she so rightfully demands because going up against a formidable machine is a daunting exercise, but good always defeats evil.
There’s also the case of the faux-doctors who were introduced during the reigning monarch’s notable period on Daytime TV, and have since launched lucrative careers in the same medium that birthed their particular brand of doctoring.
Dr. Phil McGraw has always rubbed me the wrong way, and it wasn’t shocking to find out that his long-running television show. Dr. Phil, which debuted back in 2002 with Oprah’s blessing, has been cited for violations stemming from accusations of deviously inebriating his guests right before they hit the stage.
So far there hasn’t been much traction from this disturbing case attached to one of Oprah’s most successful proteges, who apparently makes millions from not only shaming his vulnerable guests, but also guaranteeing their non-recovery for the sake of future TV checkups.
The winning formula of being anointed by the only Black woman who gets powerful white industry players to do her bidding with just a phone call is an invaluable privilege that can easily be weaponized against those who will do just about anything to appear on TV.
According to Wikipedia, McGraw who perfectly fits the description of a creepy, sleazy car salesman, “holds a doctorate in clinical psychology” but lacks the license to practice.
But who needs a piece of paper that formally endorses your skill set when you can begin your trajectory with weekly visits to The Oprah Winfrey Show, which subsequently leads to your very own vehicle, where you can blissfully embrace the illegalities of the touted unorthodox approach to psychology.
It’s no wonder why certified experts in the field that has been woefully misrepresented by fame seekers who have done more damage than good, have collectively denounced the normalized televised practices of the likes of Dr. Phil, who are shamelessly “unethical” and exhibit behavior that can be categorized as “incredibly irresponsible.”
There’s the general perception that dangerously aligns credibility with high visibility and the impressive TV ratings that must be the proof of how these sinister characters can be trusted and adored, even when the glaring warning signs say otherwise.
Another TV doctor who has won the lottery of being rich and famous from weekly exposure to the masses who hang on to his every word is Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is affectionately known as “Dr. Oz.”
The TV personality and cardiothoracic surgeon, who upholds his pseudo-scientific tendencies was also formally introduced to the world-at-large via Oprah’s Daytime empire, and just like his predecessor, Dr. Phil, he was shortly gifted his very own offering, The Dr. Oz Show which premiered in 2009.
There’s no question that Dr. Oz’s vibes are somewhat less questionable than the other doctor who isn’t licensed to do what he gets paid the big bucks to produce. But the best-selling author’s habitual need to give the stamp of approval to “unproven products and non-scientific advice” has tarnished his reputation and elicited an avalanche of criticism from members of his professional community, including government officials.
The worst of it comes from the official findings from the British Medical Journal that published the cold hard facts about how the information and recommendations allocated to the vehicle of a “medical TV series” is most likely riddled with falsities, while missing the evidence to back up those claims.
Listen, we don’t need real doctors to explain the obvious shit fest that arises when their ruthless counterparts conveniently prefer to publicize other people’s pain for their gain. Regardless of the signed consent forms from naive participants who yearn for the proximity to studio lights and disapproving audience members.
I mean Dr. Drew Pinsky who was recently called out for his damning remarks about the coronavirus, that was meant to place blame on the gluttony of the media machine, that he accused of churning out lies about a real-life global pandemic is the grossest form of a TV doctor there is.
From the early days of his syndicated radio show Loveline to the notorious spells of the Celebrity Rehab franchise, followed by Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew, Pinsky who hails from Pasadena, CA, is a self-professed “internist and addiction medicine specialist,” who has spent his entire career catering to the masses at the expense of his high-profile patients.
He has been condemned for employing a method of exploitation that an article in The New Yorker cites as the “precarious balance of professionalism and salaciousness.”
The reason why these three media personalities have come under fire is due to careless statements that were deposited at Fox News of all places, in regards to COVID-19. They all seemed to be in agreement about how the national hysteria over this deadly and unprecedented time in our history should be swiftly downgraded.
Dr. Drew said his shit elsewhere, but the main ingredients were present and it wasn’t an unappetizing experience to take in the inherent flippancy about the active emergency that demands self-isolation and the prayer that we aren’t added to the staggering pile of dead bodies.
The apology tour:
Many have blamed Oprah for lending her star power and invaluable support to Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz, who have turned out to be exactly what you would expect from overblown celebrities who have gained enormous wealth and power from playing doctor on TV.
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane spoke his mind about the matter when he tweeted:
“Oprah has done some wonderfully altruistic things with her career, but the use of her platform to amplify the voices of dubious characters rather than legitimate scientists has been a disservice.”
“I hope she will lend her own powerful voice to correct it.”
MacFarlane makes a decent argument, but it’s highly doubtful that Oprah will graciously condemn the troubling antics of her mentees, and we can’t readily assume that she doesn’t share their sentiments because there’s no way of knowing — either way.
She has done a great job of fiercely guarding her privacy and painstakingly curating her system of communications with the code of neutrality that has worked for decades, but her incredible run may be over.
Yes, there’s no Dr. Phi or Dr. Oz without Oprah, and it’s quite possible that she likes it that way. After all, she does tend to have weird tastes in friends and acquaintances.
Remember how her idea of comforting us days after Hillary Clinton’s devastating loss was to assure us that Donald Trump’s awkward visit with President Obama at The White House was the encouraging sign of things to come?
The extensive damage has been done by TV Doctors who have made a mockery of mental illness and crippling addiction and there’s absolutely nothing their creator can do about it.
However, if you truly want them gone — stop watching!